No shame in new lawyers saying ‘I don’t know’

New lawyers building up credibility with clients should not be afraid to say three words rarely uttered in the profession — “I don’t know,” Toronto real estate lawyer Lisa Laredotells Lawyers Weekly.

As Laredo says in the article, lawyers starting out in the business are often unsure of themselves and may not know the answers to certain questions posed to them by clients. However, she says, there is no shame in admitting you need to do some research before providing a well-thought-out response.

“Because you’re nervous, you feel like the client always wants to hear an answer. I think they’ll appreciate you saying, ‘I don’t know’ and being able to find an answer out. I think it’s important not to promise what you can’t deliver. People shouldn’t be afraid to do that. Nobody is holding a gun to your head. Not everybody knows what they’re doing all of the time,” she says.

Lawyers should also not stop at an acceptable level of credibility, says Laredo, but should always continue reading, researching, learning and striving to become better.

“You can’t rest on your laurels and think things will keep being the same,” she says.

One way to stay current on a wide variety of topics, she suggests, is to write articles for trade publications and the mainstream media. This will also give clients some comfort that their lawyers are engaged in the community, she adds.